Getting back to our roots...
Meggie loved horses since she was a young girl, and throughout her childhood, she begged her parents for a horse. In middle school, Meggie's dream came true and she got a big, black, beautiful 4 year old Tennessee Walking Horse. Soon after bringing him home, Meggie learned some valuable lessons about right-brained horses. After struggling, falling off, and getting frustrated while trail riding a fire-breathing dragon for a few years, Meggie had a very unfortunate event where her horse took off, and on a sharp turn she went one way while he went the other. After that fall, Meggie was hurt, and though she healed physically, it took a long time to heal mentally and emotionally. She didn't ride for over a year, and thought she would always keep her horse, but just as a pasture pet. It was then a good friend talked her into going to a Parelli Tour Stop in the area. If you've been to a Tour Stop, I'm sure you know what happened next. Meggie was hooked on the Parelli Program from that day on.
Meggie spent the next few years passing her Levels and regaining her confidence, while studying English and Linguistics at The University of Michigan and graduating with 2 Bachelors Degrees. During college, Meggie also made the trek to Pagosa Springs for 6 weeks of courses on campus. That was where she decided that she wanted to become a Parelli Professional.
After college, Meggie worked at a Therapeutic Riding Center in Mid-Michigan where they practiced Natural Horsemanship. Her year there was a catalyst to her horsemanship; it allowed her to get her hands on more than 10 horses and gain experience. It was at that time as well that Meggie was excepted to an Externship at the Florida Parelli Campus. Meggie did a 3 month externship in 2009, and graduated the course as a 2-Star Instructor. Meggie taught in Michigan and the surrounding States, while heading back to the campuses to teach and study each year. She also participated in two Internships, and after the second, was awarded her Level 4 and 3-Star Instructor status.
Shortly after receiving her 3-Star, Meggie got hired as the Head of Horse Development at Atwood Ranch in California where they breed and raise wonderful Quarter Horses. Meggie had the opportunity to learn from over 100 horses there, from newborns to stallions and everything in between. She is very grateful for the lessons learned while at Atwood and the opportunity to work at such an amazing place.
In 2015 Meggie assisted 4-Star Instructor, Maurice Thibault, in the 10-week Intensive Horsemanship Course at the Parelli campus. This is a course for those who are looking to become Parelli Professionals. This was a dream come true for Meggie, and a huge learning opportunity.
Meggie and Steve currently live in Mid-Michigan, where they are raising their son, teaching horsemanship, and growing ethically-raised pork, pastured chicken eggs and a plentiful garden.
Meggie is forever grateful to Pat and Linda Parelli for their wonderful program, her horses for being the perfect teachers, her mentors for supporting her, her students whose dedication is inspiring, and to her husband who is her constant support and encouragement.
The first memory I have of a horse is from when I was a toddler, seeing the magnificence of the being from the arms of my father. I don't know how I remember that being that I was so young, but I can remember the powerful breathing of these huge gentle beasts as they greeted us and allowed us to rub their heads. Since then my passion has only grown, and my drive to understand and learn from these animals continues to grow.
Upon graduating high-school, I joined the army and served for 10 years. I had the opportunity to travel the world and learn about the lifestyles and cultures of many different people and places. These life lessons have really helped me grow not only as a human but as a horseman as well. Throughout my military service, I was able to finish college and compete as a bull rider in a small rodeo circuit. I guess I had a bit of an adventurous bone as a young man. It was during my last couple of years in the military that I decided I was going to change direction and turn my horsemanship passion into a career. During my last deployment in Iraq, my wonderful wife sent me a 45 foot lariat and some other horsemanship tools so I could stay current and continue improving my tool handling skills while stationed in the desert. My squad mates were good sports and often let me practice on them.
From Michigan to Florida, Virginia to California and many places in between, my passion and drive to become the best horseman I can be has taken me farther than I had originally imagined. I've had incredible experiences and mentors along the way for which I am very grateful. My professional career started in 2011, when I was starting colts for the public. In 2012 Meggie and I moved out to northern California to work on the Atwood Ranch, a 6000 acre ranch where we were in charge of the training and care of 70-90 horses and up to 500 head of cattle, depending on the season. From there, I worked as a Ranch Foreman, trained horses for the public, spent 6 months studying on the Parelli Ranch, and privately trained Pitchfork Ranch Quarter Horses and Budweiser Clydesdales at Oxbow Farm in Virginia.
Of all my experiences, mentors and teachers combined, I am most grateful for my incredible wife. I wouldn't be where I am without her help, her never ending support and confidence in me. She has opened my eyes and my mind in more ways than I can express. Thank you Meggie.
Steve's Training Philosophy
Safety is #1: Safety is priority here at Bar A. A huge part of safety, as it pertains to horses, is understanding and awareness. It is imperative that we understand the nature horses and why they do what they do. It's with this understanding that we can begin to communicate with our horses in a way that's not only safe, but in a way that makes sense to them. With clear boundaries, guidance, direction and trust, people and their mounts can have an incredible and safe partnership.
Operating on a feel: The feel of every horse that we encounter is going to be different, and with a little study of the horse as an individual, we can learn how to feel for and balance with him to help him be willingly guided without force. I believe that it's part of a horses nature not to resist anything asked of him, as long as the request is in compliance with the laws of his nature and he completely understands what is being communicated to him. Horses also do not know their own strength beyond what they have experienced. With this in mind, it is possible to handle these incredibly strong animals with an almost un-imaginable softness, and use their strength in a way that feels good to us and the horse. With a little study of the horse as a species and an individual, we can handle them in a way that is not forceful or painful to them. It's not about the tools used, it's about the hands using the tools.